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Showing posts from March, 2010

Just Molson

By Belinda

For four days now I have been Mom to Molson. His real mom, Brenda, comes home tomorrow from her vacation in the sun. Not only have I been Mom to Molson, but also to Blossom the chinchilla and two cockatoos whose names escape me at the moment.

I must confess that coming downstairs in my robe to let Molson out and being greeted by a wolf whistle, has been a rousing and exciting start to my day. I will have to get Paul to do that after Brenda comes home tomorrow--just to keep my self esteem intact.

I have had a lot more exercise than usual, faithfully getting Molson out for a good walk every day, even in the rain on Sunday. I can feel the result in my glutes. Will they be gorgeous? No hope of that! But I can feel them at least, and that is a promising sign.

We explore a neighbourhood heavy into post-winter resurrection. Although the ditches run thick with last year's blackened leaves, from beneath them springs the green of this year's new life.

The scent of wood fires …

A Life in Quarters

By Belinda

I don't think that I will ever stop pondering time. I am fascinated with its perception and passage; measuring and musing about it, and trying to harness and hold something as slippery as a pile of colourful silk scarves in a summer sidewalk sale.

For all its futility, it keeps my mind occupied pleasantly and is something I like to think about.

I shared with some friends recently the mixed blessing of being a "here--now" type of person. The blessing is being able to intensely appreciate the moment you are in; the down side is being slow to move on to "next" and getting stuck sometimes in the fascinating occupation of the "now."

I have "next" people in my family. Paul naturally gears up for whatever is "next;" and very early on, I have to say. He is always ready to leave a full ten minutes before he has to, so intent on "next" is he. I, on the other hand, happily absorbed in my "now, reluctantly pull up anc…

The Church Business Meeting

By Belinda

I've been to my share of church business meetings. Calling them a "necessary evil" doesn't seem quite appropriate somehow, but I do think that is what most of us consider them to be!

We have to have them and some of us dutifully attend each year. Others (you know who you are:)) manage to escape under the guise of having some urgent errand to attend to.

Our church board and pastor have made efforts to make the meetings easier on those of us that attend. They are after the Sunday morning service, so that we don't have to make an effort to get there. We just have to resist the urge to flee.

We even have sandwiches and coffee and the reports are all circulated a week ahead in a booklet in an effort to streamline the process.

We were supposed to read the booklet in advance so that at yesterday's business meeting, the reports would just be moved and seconded, an opportunity given for questions and then they would be passed.

That system broke down for P…

A Picture Post

By Belinda

On March 25th, our granddaughter Tori turned 11. As we celebrated this occasion at cell group, I thought of the imprinting I hope is happening deep in her soul.

What rich memories she will have of the friends that gather around our table.
I hope that they will weave themselves into a blanket that will wrap her in its warmth,whenever she needs it.





Dewey--The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron (with Bret Witter). I had this book out of the library in audio CDs. Tori listened to some of it one night and fell in love with Dewey. "I have to read that book!" she said. A wish I was happy to make come true! :)

About My Ride to Work Yesterday

Susan and I spent yesterday with ten members of her team, at a day of training.

On a break I checked emails on my Blackberry. There was one from my friend, Dave, sharing his thoughts about a bus ride to work.

I couldn't help myself; I boldly blurted out in a return email,"I love this. Can I post it on my blog?"

"Um...yes," he wrote back, asking only that I let him know when I would use it.

Susan usually posts on Fridays, so I thought that I would save it for Monday.

At the end of our long day, Susan was at our house for cell group. We had dinner, and then, just as we finished clearing away the dishes, she turned to me and said, "I'm so exhausted, I'm going home. I don't think I could focus on the study tonight." She had been up since 4.00 a.m. with back pain.

"How would you like not to write a blog post tonight?" I asked.

And she said something she never says:"I would love that."

"God has it covered," I said…

Future Tense

By Belinda

I slip from beneath the warm covers, wondering at my nightly metamorphosis.

At night I wander towards my bed like a wayward child, happily distracted at every turn from actually getting there. Those chilly sheets don't beckon at all! But by morning...oh, it is a cozy nest in which I long to linger as long as possible.

Today, though, I was propelled by the knowledge that a friend would be waiting at Cora's where we were meeting for breakfast. Adding to my sense of urgency was my uncertainty of the time we were to meet. When I went to bed I was sure it was 8.30. Overnight I was seized with doubt. Was it 8.30 or 8.00? The need to call and find out got me up in good time and to find in relief that I was right all along--we were meeting at 8.30.

So I sat down with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, glad that I had time to read my Daily Light. And a scripture verse that I have read countless times before jumped off the page at me as if it were written in flashing pink neon l…

Amy Carmichael, Derick Bingham and a Pen

On March 6th, Derick Bingham died. He was one of Belfast, Northern Ireland's best known Bible teachers, and also author of one of my favourite books, The Wild Bird Child: A Life of Amy Carmichael. The book is a treasure to me, having fallen in love with Amy Carmichael's poetry after Susan introduced me to it. Derick Bingham was also a treasure to the Kingdom.

I honour his memory this morning with a post by my dear friend Claire who introduced me through her tribute, to the man who wrote the book. Below Claire's post is a link to an interview with Derick Bingham that is about 40 minutes long. If you have time to listen to it you will be enriched and blessed.

By Claire Alexander
“Grace groweth best in winter” (Samuel Rutherford to Lady Culross)

The rotating strobe of a lighthouse brings back such memories.*

My girlhood in West Vancouver, B.C., called Hollyburn in those schooldays, reminds me of Point Atkinson. I recall stories my dad told of the revered native Siwash Rock, w…

Sweet Surrender

By Belinda

I locked my office door behind me and stepped outside into the fresh air to find that it was raining. In my capacious leather shoulder bag I had an umbrella. It is at such times as this that I am rewarded for carrying most of my worldly goods around with me at all times.

It felt good to be heading home, although I would miss Paul being there. He is away for a few days.

I didn't bother going to the post office. "No need to rush to pick up those bills," I thought. These days it is rare to get anything but bills and flyers.

Letting myself into the big, empty house, the phone blinked: Message waiting. It was our friend Dave, asking me to call.

"Did you only just get in?" he said.

I glanced at the clock; it said 6.15; and said, "Yes."

"Well, that was a long day," he said.

I explained that I hadn't rushed home with Paul not being here, and how it had felt so good to actually finish several things completely instead of leaving them a…

Amish Enslavement

By Belinda

It was Day 10. Enough said.

The instructions that came with my Amish Friendship Bread starter, include a paragraph that states, "You will be baking every 10 days."

Can you hear the  tone in those words? "You will be baking..."

Like it or not; no matter what else is on your agenda for that day; if it is Day 10, you will be baking.

So even though it was Sunday, I came home from church knowing exactly what lay ahead before I could relax for the afternoon; a vast quantity of baking.

It was a "vast quantity" because I outwore my welcome with all of my friends the last time I inflicted bags of AFB starter on them and can't bring myself to do it again. So my plan was to bake a quadruple batch of bread (8 loaves,)freeze them, and keep just one bag going on the counter for another 10 days. I then plan to bake the lot (10 more loaves) and be done with it! The bread stops with me.

I beat a dozen eggs into submission and measured and poured equally l…

The Clash of the Dutch and the Amish

By Belinda

Me and the Amish Bread ( I have dropped "friendship" from the name; read on and  you will see why) are in a standoff. Maybe even "standoff" is too gentle. I feel as though war has been declared. On me.

Did someone whisper to the bag on the countertop what I wrote about it earlier this week?

The bag in which Brenda brought her Amish "friend" home to Mom on Sunday was the medium sized Ziploc. I was so shocked to be "tagged" with a bag that at first I didn't think too much about the size. I wondered why two years ago (the last time I had an Attack of the Amish) I had used the large sized bags to keep my blobs of goop in. Maybe I had been wasteful using big bags, I thought.

On Wednesday night I had to add to the bag a cup each of flour, sugar and milk. I eyed the bag and thought, "Yep, she can take it." I opened it and poured in food for the "baby." It was a tight fit, but I could zip 'er back up. Just. I dul…

Delight

by Susan

Tonight my post is simple. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I offer you Valter, our beloved son-in-law with Timothy Valor, when he was just a few minutes old. It's hard to believe Tim-bit will soon be celebrating his first birthday.

I hope you can put yourself in that picture. And see in Valter's eyes the way our Father looks at you... The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will joy over you with singing... Zephaniah 3:17

I'm It!

By Belinda

We've been getting to know each other, bit by bit.

We watched a performance of Hamlet together with Brenda--our mutual connection--and I enjoyed our conversation during the interval.

But this weekend a quiver ran through our budding friendship when she sent home a "gift" with Brenda.

"Mom," Brenda said, proffering a plastic bag of fermenting goop.

Hesitating (as she should have,) she said, "Tina sent you this."

And dropping it on the counter, she beat a hasty retreat. It was not lost on me that shedidn't come home with a bag for herself (being gluten intolerant has its blessings!)

"Aaaargh! NO! The curse of the Amish Friendship Bread! What friend gives you this?" I sighed.

It seems only yesterday that I finally gave up the endless cycle with my last batch and allowed it to die. This one comes with instructions that end with the ominous sentence: "Only the Amish know how to create the starter, so if you give them all away…

Ordinary Ontarians

Last week was a week in which ordinary Ontarians showed their mettle; a week in which I was so proud of the grace and greatness that came to the surface under great pressure. That's why I had to share the words I heard from Provincial Constables Dell Mercey and Terri Patterson, and Mike Thompson over the past few days.

On Friday, March 12th, Paul and I drove into the heart of small town Ontario--a patchwork of rural farming communities--plain and simple towns; nothing fancy.

It was early in the morning when we set out; a gray, misty morning at first, with a damp cold that seeped into our bones. We turned up the heat in the car and hunched our shoulders against the chill outside.

We passed through Harriston, where a sign proclaimed, "$3,300 raised for Haiti." And that's nothing unusual; these communities are full of salt of the earth, good people.

Outside of Shelburne, through the fog rose mile after mile of tall, three blade windmills; turning lazily in synchonization; l…

Reflections on Vu by Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson is one of Vu's Canadian brothers. I didn't capture Mike Thompson's reflections in their entirety, but I did my best and I caught most of it. This is the last of the eulogies I recorded, but tomorrow I will share some thoughts I had on the day of the funeral.
Belinda

As I’ve watched people come and go over the last couple of days, I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of you who can call Vu brother for a variety of reasons.

(Mike turned to Vu’s biological brother and named him:)
You can call Vu brother because you were born into his family. Christina, Brian and I can call Vu brother because my parents made a decision twenty nine years ago that has forever altered our lives for the best.

Some of you can call Vu brother because of a choice you made, for better or worse when you married into his family or when he married into yours.

Many of you can call Vu brother because fifteen years ago he decided to serve and protect, when he joined the Ontario Provincial Polic…

Reflections on Vu Pham

To honour Vu, I am changing the normal order of posts this week and am sharing the eulogy that was delivered at Vu's funeral by Provincial Constable Terri Patterson (Vu’s partner before Constable Dell Mercey became Vu’s last partner)

(I have done my best to transcribe Constable Terri Patterson’s words, and, when not clear on the exact words, to convey their intent. My apologies to Terri for anything I may have misinterpreted.)

This is an honour. I thought I’d cried all the tears I had until I was called and asked to speak today.

I want to give you a glimpse of Vu the man, the police officer; what he was like when he was behind closed doors. Not the cookie cutter that tends to get spoken at times like this. So I thought about what I would say. He was a family man; a good family man; just a general nice guy.

So after I stopped the river of tears and thought about what I would say about Vu, I started reflecting on a few calls we had done with one another when I had first met him; that s…

A Life With a Purpose

By Belinda

Actually, this isn't "by Belinda." I could write much about yesterday's funeral for Vu Pham, and I am sure that over the next few days I will; but I want to give you the best--and today the best is the eulogy delivered by Vu's partner: Constable Dell Mercey at yeaterday's funeral in Wingham, Ontario. Here it is, with an explanation of the enigmatic statement at the end.

Family, friends, police family and dignitaries, thank you for gathering here today to honour a great son; father; brother and police officer: Vu Pham.
My name is Dell Mercey, I work out of the Huron O.P.P. Detachment. I was Vu’s partner for almost two years. A lot of you here today don’t know Vu and I would like you to know his story.

For those of you who do know him, you will probably hear things you didn’t know about his life. His story is a truly extraordinary one. It’s a story of a man who overcame some obstacles.

I’ve known Vu since he was posted to Wingham and more so since becomin…

Godspeed

by Susan

It's been a week. Although not as closely connected to the deaths these past few days as Belinda has been, they have affected me deeply. Both of them. It has hit home once again how fleeting life is. And what a precious gift. I said to Belinda tonight, "How dare we be discontented? About anything... How dare we?" She nodded her head in agreement.

Earlier this week I was sidelined with a pain in my chest that was severe enough to make me think I should put my affairs in order. A midnight trip to the hospital and a chest xray or two later, accompanied by EKG, bloodwork, a good long ventolin treatment helped the doctor to reach the diagnosis of "pneumonia". "Walking pneumonia". Weird. Well, now I know that particular and distinctive pain which I felt in my chest on Sunday morning was NOT any kind of heart attack, but is the feeling of lungs fighting infection and air capacity diminished. It was weird all right. The doctor said to drink plenty of f…

How You Lived

By Belinda

I circled the car pool until I found Bonnie's car, then she got into mine and we set off down the highway for the short journey to Springdale Christian Reformed Church in the Holland Marsh.

The day held the promise of spring in the muddy retreat of the snow that has blanketed the land for the long winter. Our hearts too, held a mixture of spring and winter as we went to pay our respects by being present at the funeral for Colleen Mills, sister-in-law to your friend Ellen (Joyful Fox.)

We were deliberately early and we found a parking spot at the side of the road, and seats in the church that was already packed with people.

On our way in, I spotted Ellen and her daughter, Hannah. I tried to catch her eye, but so full of nervous energy was she as she flitted about--a slim figure in a black dress--that I had to run after her to hug her and let her know we were there.

Bonnie and I found seats and listened to the piano music that was the backdrop to the hum of many voices as peo…
By Belinda

Today I will be at the funeral for Colleen Mills, Joyful Fox's sister-in-law, who passed away on Saturday. Her family kept a 7 week vigil at the hospital, praying for a miracle, but it was not to be.

On January 18th, she had suffered a heart arythmia at the start of an exercise class. Just 44; a sweet and kind person, she had a young family and husband who loved her.

There is a link to her sister Sylvia's blog, which chronicles their journey, in the upper right corner of this blog. Sylvia chose this beautifully appropriate scripture to announce Colleen's arrival in heaven:Psalm 45:13,14:
13 The bride, a princess, looks glorious
in her golden gown.
14 In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king...

I confess that after the painful events of this week, I am suddenly aware of the privilege that it is to grow old.

On Tuesday night, after the death of Vu Pham, just 37, I woke up in the night, with the words of Psalm 23 on my mind. As I recited it from memory, verse 4 came …

Remembering Vu Pham

By Belinda

The headline in The Toronto Star reads, Officer Dead After Shooting. 37 year old Constable Vu Pham, a 15 year veteran of the Ontario Provincial Police, died Monday afternoon, with his wife Heather, and three young sons by his side.

I was meeting with a colleague in my office Monday afternoon afternoon when my desk phone rang. I turned the ringer off, intent on focusing on the person I was with. My cell phone rang too and I ignored it; I could check for a message in a few moments, I thought. When the person left, I checked my computer and there was a two word email from my boss. "Call me," it said. I called--and that's when I heard that Vu had been shot in the head by a man whose car he had flagged down.

Vu is the adopted brother of Mike, one of our team of area managers, but 22 years ago, they were both just teenagers in the church we attend, Hillside Community Church, in Tottenham, and part of the youth group our kids were in and which we led. Constable Vu Pham …

He Shows the Way

By Belinda

It was a Friday evening when Frank got a call that meant he'd have to drive down to the city instead of going home as he'd planned. It was bitterly cold and a blizzard had engulfed our area, but he set off down the highway, with the wind whipping the car and the snow coming down hypnotically, heavily, and relentlessly.

He was already tense, and straining to see the road ahead, when one of the lenses suddenly popped out of his glasses, causing his vision to be out of focus.

Heart in his mouth, he pulled over to the side of the highway and stopped. He tried to feel for the lens, hoping to pop it back into the frame temporarily. It had to be there, he thought, but he couldn't find it.

Thinking that it might be on the floor, he pushed open the door against the wind that was pushing back, and got out, so that he could look under the seat. His coat was in the back of the car, but now he was out without it, in the numbing, bitter, freezing cold wind, and the car was shakin…

The Power of One No

By Belinda

"You seem to do a really good job of building things that you are learning, into your life," said Susan.

"Doesn't everybody?" I said.

"Nope!" was her emphatic reply, and she went on to use herself as an unflattering example of not doing so.

Of course that conversation kind of went on in reverse last night after cell group, when we stood at the door saying goodnight.

We were talking about how much better we can work through things through now than we used to be able to.

"You sure have changed," she said.

"I've changed? And you haven't had to change at all?" I said.

"Nope! Not at all." she said. And we hugged and said goodbye, laughing at one another.

I've been thinking about Susan's first (nice) comment this week, though. It was encouraging, because so often it feels as though a lifetime can be spent fighting the same battles; going around the same mountains; whether they be addictive behaviours; overwork…

Snow Story

by Susan
It was just a few days past Valentine's Days. Ron and I slipped away from the Deerhurst Inn, where he was attending meetings all week (and I was along "for the ride") and headed east along Highway 60 away from "the madding crowds" and in search of something that was much more our style. I mean, the Deerhurst is beautiful and all that (it's where the G8 Summit is meeting in May of this year) but it's just not "real" somehow. Algonquin Park was just half an hour away. We couldn't resist the opportunity for adventure. Not when there was a snowy trail out there somewhere just waiting for us...

Entering the west end of the park, we stopped at the gatehouse to pay for our day pass. The man behind the counter told us we wouldn't enjoy the trek up to Hardwood Lookout at this time of year. "The parking lot's not plowed," he said. "You'd have to leave your car at the side of the highway. You never know when the sal…